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tv   To the Contrary With Bonnie Erbe  PBS  September 25, 2011 9:30am-10:00am EDT

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>> funding for "to the contrary" provided by: >> the alternative fuel debate is over. this is lexus' hybrid technology designed to optimize any fuel conceivable. this is the pursuit of perfection. additional funding provided by: the colcom foundation and by the charles a. frueauff foundation >> this week on "to the contrary" with bonnie erbe: up first, an exclusive interview with white house senior advisor valerie jarrett, plus journalist ron suskind on claimwomen felt frozen out in the early days of the obama presidency.
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behind the headlines, former michigan governor jennifer granholm on her tumultuous years leading that state - and what america can learn from michigan. >> hello, i'm irene natividad in for bonnie erbe. welcome to "to the contrary," a discussion of news and social trends from diverse perspectives. i'm happy to report bonnie will return to the show in two weeks. we begin today with charges the early obama white house was not a good place for women: >> the boys teamed up with the boys and the girls with the girls and all of a sudden, the boys were running things and the women felt left out. >> these charges are in a new book "confidence men," by pulitzer prize-winning
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journalist ron suskind. he details how top female advisers felt excluded from key policy decisions. senior advisor valerie jarrett does not dispute gender friction in the early days but says it was addressed. >> the president was very aware there were some issues and we did spend some time talking about it and i suggested this dinner and he thought it was a terrific idea and, in fact, set it up immediately and encouraged women to speak very openly and candidly. and, to their credit, everyone did. and he said, "look, i want you to come in and speak what's on your mind, you don't have to you stand on ceremony around me, you don't have to wait to be recognized." >> in the book, former white house communications director, anita dunn, is quoted as saying "this place would be in court for a hostile workplace because it actually fit all of the classic legal requirements for a genuinely hostile workplace to
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women." and christine romer, former chairwoman of the council of economic advisers, is quoted as saying "i felt like a piece of meat" after being excluded in a meeting. although both dunn and romer say the quotes were taken out of context, suskind defends the book's credibility and explains what may have caused friction among staffers. >> it was chaos. and i think some of the gender issues flowed, not from necessarily the bad or misguided inclinations or clumsiness or bullying of the guys, but from a kind of a mess there. where people weren't sure who was supposed to go to what meeting, and so, you know, all of a sudden, people who were friends only went, and the women are like why wasn't i read in on that document, or i don't play golf with you guys or tennis or basketball, and i didn't hear that. all of those processes contributed, or the lack of
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process or good process contributed to this gender thing. >> the world was in chaos, the administration was not. and i think that the president had a very even, steady hand through one of the nation's worst financial crises in the nation's history. inevitably, tensions flared. he managed us through a very difficult time with a lot of strong personalities that he anita, today is one of the president's closest advisors. she was here, at the white house last week for the meeting with the president, i had dinner with her last night, and i know that she believes very strongly in an environment that he has created here in the white house and she >> suskind did 700 hours of interviews for the book and found women knew they had something to contribute and their voices were important. >> that's the way a lot of the women started to feel, if the president would listen to us more than he would listen to men, he might be better off, we're here to serve him,
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whatever he wants to do, whichever direction he wants to go, we'll be here to nourish him, support him and serve him. >> i think as in any new institution, when people came in, when they were first getting their footing, people weren't sure exactly whether their opinions were valued. and what's most important to note is that the president responded to that decisively, he made sure that he had a meeting with a group of women to talk through their issues. and if you look at what's happened since then: his white house counsel who was promoted is a women, his two deputy chiefs of staff are women, he has had key women from the beginning in every part of his administration in an unprecedented way. more than any president before. and everyone's very comfortable speaking their mind right now. >> president of women's campaign fund, do you think the support from women's groups and women voters around the country would be impacted by this revelation? >> absolutely not. when you compare obama's position on women's issue, everything from reproductive choices there's absolutely no
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competition with the republicans running for president. >> this should serve as wake up call for women that it is influence that will make a different in the workplace. >> i think while some will be disappointed, ultimately did act on their concerns that's all you really ever want. >> i agree. that the fact that he was able to recognize it, pivot, address the problem is encouraging. >> you were a former chair of the equal employment opportunity commission and veterans of two administrations. does any of this surprise you? >> we thought it would be different this time around. >> because of all the talk and chatter about being inclusive and open. sense is, yes, you know, lots of companies and lots of women in these companies. but the numbers don't make a difference if you don't have these individuals in positions of influence. and if you don't have access to the top leader in our nation they felt excluded, they felt
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like a lot of deals were being made and some of these other places that i think lessons to be learned not just in corporate america, but in the way we lead our government. all of you are veterans of washington. do you think it's peculiar to the white house and atmosphere that it generates that this kind of thing happens? i mean is this any different? >> i've seen many crawling over these revelations, they're just -- that doesn't make it okay. and fact this they were able to improve upon it i think is really important. but i think the white house is sort of a weird rarefied atmosphere where everybody is trying to elbow each other out of the way. i don't think in way it's almost like equal opportunity trying to -- let your competition down. >> a make or break kind of thing. people work their whole lives trying to get to the white house when you don't get that access gender, race, whatever you want that access.
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this is a career. these are your goals. >> a lot of senior diversity officers and companies always say that if the c.e.o. is not committed to gender diversity, nothing will happen. so this is one case where it took the c.e.o. of the country to say, this won't do. so, what kind of lesson do you think we can draw from this, sam? >> i think that everyone's pointed out first of all obama was responsive give him a lot of credit. the other things women complained. that's the key thing. value jarrett who was a woman heard those and as a woman went to the president. i think vally played a very key leader -- role in this, that's real model for what we need to do in all of the halls of power. >> why do you think that women backtrack on their comments, dunn and romern. >> put yourself in their position. they have a job they have to do later glob do you think some of should have been fired along the way? >> absolutely no not.
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obama will send the wrong message if he did that. >> the shows that we need to be vim lant, cheryl from facebook did a terrific tech talk about sexism she said she realized all the questions she answered were -- questions from men. that she even talking about sexism that we have to be really vigilant. we need to be really conscious. >> if i could i think that the campaign that we've been doing where it shows where against women is really a root problem here. i think that is really good example of that. >> i think power is the greatest aphrodisiac we have in politics, i think that's what we're seeing. a real power struggle between genders. >> anywhere. whether in the white house or in a corporation. the president's polling numbers are in historic lows. what cow think this book will do? do you think the republicans candidates are going to use this in their -- individual
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campaigns? >> republicans, they had a lot of women in position of leadership. talking about margaret spelling and fred townsend and kevin hughes, so, we have -- very good record putting individuals in position of influence because secretary of state, top communications director, that i think was key thing that's a lesson to be learned that we not just need to have the numbers but the appointments to key roles. >> but these women were in key roles. >> i think the republicans -- >> the chair of the council of economic advisors that's pretty key. and she's saying, i wasn't invited to meeting, it wasn't naming the women but it is making sure that they are included. >> let's look at the double-edged sword or republican candidates to use this. reality is, if you point out, you had a woman problem people will look at your own campaign and own record and point out if
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you have any -- >> do you think that is kind of progress in some way that everybody now so p.c. i have to have my women. >> it was unmarried black women, african american women that elected obama. i'm going to peel as many of the -- >> that's what i was asking you earlier. >> republicans are going to use this. quite frankly we see this, the women issue around obama coming up everywhere across, that's what they're trying to do. >> i hey it. i think it's stud. why would you go with your eighth best argument. i don't agree on a lot of the economic things, i think they need to keep their eye on the prize, keep their eye on jobs in the economy to talk about this is such a silly distraction. michael learn from politico today was taubing about how sus skipped is not considered a really la internet journalist. he has history of coming up these damning allegations, did he to the bush administration. why would we talk about these unsubstantiated things with some of the women are backtracking and saying their quotes have
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been taken out of context. this is not even the thrust of the book. >> exactly. there were other revelations in there that seemed to indicate that it was a white house in chaos, nobody was really leading. but this item regarding women is the one that has caught the headlines. which is why one of the reasons we're covering it. >> but at the end of the day, it's going to be jobs. it's going to be the economy, what is going to sway votearies book is not going to any kind of difference. i think, the -- that's the way it's going to go. >> i agree. behind the headlines: governor jennifer granholm. the first female governor of michigan was the chief executive of a state with the highest unemployment rate in the nation, while still managing to be a wife and mother. to the contrary sat down with her and her husband to discuss the difficulties facing the nation today and the similarities between her tenure as governor and the current national challenges.
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>> it was on a campaign of hope and change and i was the first woman and there was all sorts of enthusiasm, and it was a lot of expectation. and we were hit, slammed with crises from day one. there's so many parallels with what's going on in dc. we wanted to be able to invest and we couldn't because we just didn't have the money to do it. in my first term, the first four and a half years, i cut taxes 99 times in hopes that it was going to spur the economic recovery that the theorists would have us believe even today. by the time i left office, i had cut government more than any other state in the country, by far. we were 48th in the nation in terms of the size of government. our corporate tax burden had dropped more than any state in the country. you would think with all of that, we would be number one in employment instead of number one in unemployment. >> granholm entered her office was hit by one crisis after
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another. she took on the toughest economic climate in a state at the time and eventually turn it around. but it was not tax cuts and smaller government that is saving her state. >> the reality was, those solutions did not work in the global economy that was pulling our jobs overseas. we could never compete on cost. what we can compete on, as a nation, is quality. and that requires investment when the obama administration came in and enabled us to invest, ah!, all of a sudden, things started to turn around. yes, they intervened in the market to save the auto industry. if they hadn't have done that our unemployment rate in michigan would be over 20%. yes, they gave us the opportunity to partner with the private sector to build the battery industry for the electric vehicle. they gave us the opportunity to strategically invest in the clean energy economy and with all of these strategic, smart investments, we were able to grow our economy.
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in fact, in 2010, our unemployment rate dropped six times faster than the national >> the parallels between michigan's economic challenges and those facing america today are remarkable. granholm says the united states government should see her tenure as a roadmap for economic recovery and jobs. >> we need to cut where we can to invest where we must. can you imagine the innovation that could be sparked across the country if you had a jobs competition, a jobs race to the top, where you incentive the state governments to do things we hadn't done before. streamline permitting, partner with the private sector, identify your strengths, create industrial parks that are innate to your strengths. the kinds of things that are being done all over the globe, everywhere but the united states. >> as granholm tried to rebuild her state, her family stayed by her side.s one incidensband rect where he realized how public their life had become and how
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hard granholm worked to bolster michigan's economy. >> a young man about 45 or so came up to jennifer and started talking. i can tell he was really distraught and he started talking to us about how he lost his factory job, and he had two kids, and he and his wife had made a decision a long time ago that he was going to lead, they had no real source of income, and he starts tearing up in a coffee shop. so when you lead a state through times like that, those kinds of individual encounters, jennifer is tough as nails, so her natural defense mechanism was to accept, adjust, advance, keep moving. what can we do? how do we save this? we lost that one, how do we bring in another factory? where do i go ... sweden, japan? what can i do to replace those jobs? how can we make it more competitive for businesses. >> as the first female governor of michigan, granholm broke barriers. but she doesn't feel as though she was treated differently for being a woman. >> since i've never been a male, i don't know how they would have
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been treated and i don't, i don't like to think of things in that way. you know, i'm a pre-title nine baby, so i didn't get the benefit of all that and i really tell our girls, who are competitors, "you're so lucky that you've been raised at a time when it's good for girls to compete and enjoy the game, enjoy the competition." i'm not necessarily wired in the way to constantly be saying well, they're only treating me like that because i'm a girl. but it was a first. and i certainly had to play ball with the boys in a very significant way. >> and she hopes she can inspire young women to be more politically active, even though her own daughters are not looking to run for office any time soon. >> i don't think they're interested in the least. my two daughters aren't. but i think, i would hope that despite the challenges that are described in this book, that
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women would see themselves as helping to lead in the political realm too. obviously there are a lot of women who do, but few governors. few executives who are leading. yes, the spotlight is one you, and yes you have to have skin as thick as a rhinoceros, but i think that bringing the perspective to the role is really, really important. >> do you think she was persuasive in bringing the parallels between michigan. >> xudos to the governor. she did a great job while keeping the home fires burning, that's a lot of juggling. but i think there's some similarities between what happened in the state of michigan and what's happening with the high unemployment. but it's also the luck of the draw. i think main industry in michigan being the automotive industry when you compare michigan to texas, oil rich petroleum rich they didn't have the type of problem. so i think a lot of our issues
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are state specific. depends on what it is that they produce and what they can offer. the efficiency and lot of things that happened in michigan as well, a lot of the workers who are able have the skill mi grated to other states. they went to south carolina. because they didn't have the right skills. there are all kinds of issues that she was able to address with lots of stimulus funding but she was able to do it. >> the other parallel that i see is a personal one which has to do with the high expectations, first woman, first african american president that sense of hope and then the realities that they both had to face. so you have been tracking women candidates for many years. do you see that parallel as well? >> i think certainly when a woman steps in, particularly any gubernatorial seat. we've had 16 women governors in this country throughout the his tower reof our nation and thousands upon thousands of men
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governors. a lot 6 person you are there. the thing that we're very proud of having endorsed her from the very beginning all the way through is she won by 51% in her first election, won by 56%. that's the real story there. >> when the economy was already bad. >> that's right. >> i think that she had the confidence, was a tough rye owe elect she had confidence of the people of her state that's real story that she earned that. >> well the strategy that she's promoting is discussing, that worked for them was not the cutting taxes business. and i wanted to ask both of you because washington is awash with tax cut talk also cutting government spending. and she said that didn't work. what worked was a giant infusion of federal dollars. me as virginia taxpayer my parents as illinois taxpayers that's what -- we ended up propping up industry that quite frankly are not sustainable on their own would not have been sustainable without money from outside. it's great to talk about the
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batteries that we have created, but if we had to pay full market value for some of these products they're not competitive on their own merits. we can't compete on costs because it's not the cost of the car and production but cost of the workers. why is that. because of a lot of the union packages and compensation packages that have been negotiated. there's a lot else that's going on. i can't think that she can -- >> can't just blame tax cuts for this. >> she says that she cut, cut in terms of government spending as much as she could she ended up 48th -- michigan was 48th state in terms of government spending. that didn't work. tax cuts didn't work either. it sounds like stimulus packages, which is what nicole was starting to say here is what works. >> you need money to get something off the ground get it going. you can cut funds all you like but if you don't have the money there. if you just aren't able to cover your costs, if you aren't to pay
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workers to go back and buy consumer goods get our economy back. you're just stuck. >> the real story here is she was pointing out that in the new global economy where korea and other nations are making those industrial investments in order for us to compete it's no longer what product a costs relative to profit about what we as nation can offer to manufacturers and what we can offer to the global economy. i think that's the real story here. >> the kodak factory after -- when we switched to digital cameras the idea that we're bailing out this auto industry is problematic. i don't like seeing the government pick winners and losers in the corporate market. >> cameras, cars are cars. >> there was something integral to the american identity to somehow help the automobile industry. and this is like the core of america's strength, we invented the cars somehow there was a sense you had to save that particular industry. and frankly, it worked.
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general motors is now back on its feet and did an ipo that everybody wanted to get in on. >> and paid all the taxpayers back. that's the real story here. >> they didn't pay them back they used -- got another government loan to pay them back to get a green energy loan. this is like -- this is a shell game right now. this is -- michigan is not fixed. >> with all due respect i think that your argument is slishes, in a global economy, the federal oop government as every other country that's out there competing has to be willing to make that investment or we'll be left way behind at the strain would need to spend money as a country. >> there's no question that our success will depend on our ideas. to be able to nurture those ideas, innovation, we have to find the right sectors but at
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the same the we have to be careful that we don't turn the government in to the investment banker of our society. >> i think that is the -- the sliply. >> i don't agree it's a slippery slope it's balancing act. >> there have been nobel laureates. this is very much a discussion, this is discussion about future of our country, will we spend, or will it be a free market economy going forward. what we have right now is the worst of all possible worlds. we have capital list system where we are picking winners and losers based on -- >> what do you think -- >> i couldn't agree with you more. >> i disagree, too. >> the panelists -- >> but i do want to ask of you, so what then is the path to getting out of this economic crisis if it is not stimulus spending by the government. if we were to stimulus, where would the money come from? it's coming from overseas, from our children. that i think is placing unfair burden on us. >> i also think that coming from
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political instability. companies are sitting on a ton of cash. they don't want to invest -- >> what is biggest problem we have. by standard hard poore we had a bunch of newcomers to congress who are all men who sat on their hands during this terrifically important decision. so i think that what's really critical here is something that all of us would do if we had our own businesses. there are times to invest and there are times that you cut back. and i think granholm hit the nail on the head. you choose what you're going to do and invest where you have to. >> wonderful, i'm investing. >> gov. granholm and her husband discussed how they switched traditional family roles and dan stayed home with the children. we'll bring you that part of the interview in a few weeks. that's it for this edition of "to the contrary." next week: justice sandra day o'connor talks about her historic appointment to the u.s supreme court. check us out on our website for ttc extra. whether your views are in agreement or to the contrary, please join us next time.
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>> funding for "to the contrary" provided by: >> the alternative fuel debate is over. this is lexus' hybrid technology designed to optimize any fuel conceivable. this is the pursuit of perfection. additional funding provided by: the colcom foundation and by the charles a. frueauff foundation for videotapes of "to the contrary", please contact federal news service at 1-888-343-1940.
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